What began as a hobby almost 50 years ago has blossomed into a thriving family business for Skuteviks Floral. which relocated to 305 Broadway St., Cloquet, a few weeks ago.
In 1970, a local accountant named George Skutevik Jr. was living at 114 14th St. His hobby was growing plants. Soon, he began selling his plants in front of his brick house.
In 1971, a friend asked if he could design flowers for a funeral.
“He said sure, the wife can do it,” George III said. “My mom rushed to try to find books on designing to learn how to design. That’s how they started that.”
Next, he decided to build a flower shop complete with a cooler in his garage, but it quickly became apparent it wasn't big enough. In 1972, George Jr. built the brown wooden shop on his property next to his brick house.
Hundreds of residents have stopped into the small shop over the years to purchase bridal bouquets, Valentine's Day roses, prom sprays, funeral wreaths and cards.
George Jr. and his wife, Helen, grew most of the plants they sold.
“My dad was a workaholic,” George III said. “ He did a lot of growing -- it’s what he absolutely loved. He grew all of the plants and we grew our own poinsettias. He made pottery, had an accounting businesses and had his greenhouses. He was doing something all of the time.”
George III was fresh out of the Army in 1972 and went to work at Potlatch. His father asked if he was interested in working in the shop. George III said he would for a while.
Several months later, he quit his job at Potlatch to work in the shop full time. His dad sent him to design school in Chicago.
“Here I still am,” George III said with a laugh.
One day, George Jr. decided it was time to turn the business over to his son.
“He just came in one day and said, “Here’s your sales tax number and your federal ID number,” and I said, 'Whaaa?,'” George III said.
“It’s (floral business) changed over the years,” George III said. "They used to only have funerals six days a week. Now, it’s seven days a week. Sundays used to be left alone. Now, anything goes.”
The internet has also changed how business works.
“We don't talk to other florists anymore,” George III said.
The recession caused several wholesale businesses the Skuteviks had done business with to close.
“The great recession also caused other florists to close,” George III said.
“When money is tight, flowers are the first to be cut.”
George III and his wife, Michelle, included their children, Nicole and George IV, in the family business.
“The kids had to work -- they didn't have a choice,” George III said with a chuckle.
Family members come and go in the shop over the years. Both Nicole and George IV married and have kids of their own. George IV’s wife, Annie, worked at the shop at one point, as did her older sister, Fay.
Now, their 15-year-old daughter, Sydney, works a few hours a week in the family business with her grandparents and aunt. Both Nicole and her husband, Matt Wheale, work at the shop, but Matt has a full-time job as well.
“It’s family, everybody has to work,” George III joked.
“It’s been a nice hub for family and friends,” Nicole said.